Hiroaki Ishiura - photo courtesy Toyota RacingEnlarge Photo
Toyota Racing undertook a "functionality test" for the TS030 Hybrid chassis at Magny Cours road circuit in France last week, with Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre at the wheel. The new chassis, built after a first chassis was destroyed in testing, features planned updates to the aerodynamics and hybrid system that were intended prior to the car's first race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, part of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Between them, the two drivers completed a total of 81 laps over the one-day practice session, allowing the team to resume its testing program with a bit more confidence in the coming days.
While Toyota Racing intends to race two TS030 Hybrid cars at Le Mans this June, it will have to do so without Hiroaki Ishiura, who is unable to take his place as intended in the driver lineup for the No. 8 car; he is pulling out with a back injury. During the first tests of the car, Ishiura experienced discomfort in his back with the high G-forces experienced in this LMP1 car.
After speaking with his physicians and following careful examination, Ishiura informed Toyota Racing of his decision to withdraw from the team for this year's Le Mans 24 Hours; he will concentrate on regaining full fitness ahead of the 2013 racing season.
"This was an extremely difficult decision to take because racing at Le Mans is my dream," the driver said. "But my physical condition has to be the priority. I did not feel I was in the right condition to race an LMP1 car at Le Mans this year, but I will focus on recovering as I really want to drive for Toyota Racing next year. For now," Ishiura confirmed, "I will focus my energy entirely on Super GT and the Nurburgring 24 Hours, while supporting Toyota Racing from a distance."
Toyota Racing is evaluating a potential replacement and will confirm its decision as soon as the change has been ratified by the ACO, sanctioning organization for the Le Mans race.
"I would like to express my thanks to Hiroaki for his integrity in these difficult circumstances," said Yoshiaki Kinoshita, team president. "As a team we reluctantly respect his decision and we are pleased he remains part of the Toyota motorsports family through his activities in Super GT and at the Nurburgring 24 Hours. His speed, consistency and team mentality impressed us greatly during his short time with Toyota Racing; we would be delighted if he can return to the team next year."